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Editorial Note on Marshall’s Position of Responsibility
“This war is a terrible business and grows more so day by day,” General Marshall confided to a longtime friend’s daughter, whose husband had been reported missing in action in Europe. (Marshall to Mrs. Richard W. Ripple, January 25, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) As the year 1945 commenced, Marshall faced another year of enormous responsibility as the welder of Allied military power. An educator responded to the chief of staff’s off-the-record address to the Association of American Colleges on January 11, 1945: “I think the strongest impression was, `He knows what he is talking about and is absolutely sincere.’. . . As I sat there and realized just a little of the tremendous responsibility which must be his, it was hard to see how any human being could carry this load.” (H. Merrill Pasco Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 22, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, SGS (Secretariat)].)
Marshall bore the responsibility uprightly. While he operated on a global scale in world strategy, Marshall possessed one objective—to win the war as quickly as possible with the fewest Allied casualties. In March, Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill praised the chief of staff’s work: “Pray further give him [Marshall] my warmest congratulations on the magnificent fighting and conduct of the American and Allied armies under General Eisenhower, and say what a joy it must be to him to see how the armies he called into being by his own genius have won immortal renown. He is the true `organizer of victory.’” (Churchill to Henry Maitland Wilson, March 30, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 3.